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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  November 22, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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>> -- on your claim -- >> zero. >> the new middle class poor, hidden behind the closed doors of suburbia. >> this is the -- my children are the face of medicaid. >> i that once enjoyed the good life. >> the jobs were plentiful. >> now, they are just one pay day from disaster. >> this check doesn't add up to these bills. >> this is the story of their painful trip down. >> this crisis has really taken a toll on your relationship. >> he said that's the door. >> what they had to do to survive. >> you don't like coming back here? >> i hate coming back here. i hate it. >> and getting back up. >> the fact that i'm actually working again, i'm waking up again. >> america now, lost in suburbia. >> thanks for joining us. i'm lester holt.
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many of us have a lot to be thankful for today, but even as the u.s. economy starts to sputter back to life, millions of americans remain unemployed and they're suffering. many find themselves falling out of the middle class and falling into poverty. there are more people living in the suburbs than in cities and we have been following three families as they confronted poverty. they face losing their homes and their future, yet never losing themselves. diane is the kind of do it all mom you often meet in the affluent suburbs of boulder, colorado. >> we're going to get some groceries. pasta, rice. cereal. a gallon of milk possibly and eggs. >> she's an ambitious human
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resource executive with a master's degree, a husband, three kids. and a comfortable home. so what is diane doing here? >> you're entitled to the government commodity today. can you use rice krispies? >> yeah. >> and a food pantry. >> i never thought we'd be in this predicament so many unknowns. >> they didn't see it coming. three years ago when they moved from michigan to the boulder suburbs. >> i felt that it was going to mecca. because the economy was apparently better over here and the jobs were plentiful. >> their new life began well indeed. john, an avid runner, found work as a business consultant with an athletic company. diane was in human resources and together they were earning about $120,000 a year. >> and it just gave us some stability, sense of security
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that, you know, we can pay for everything and have some leftover. >> comfortable? >> comfortable for us, yeah. >> but not an extravagant lifestyle. >> no. nice for us. >> nice meant two cars, including a new suv. it also meant three months worth of savings in the bank. just in case. >> something happens, you need that money there to fall back on if you need it. >> sensible people leading sensible lives. just like joyce and lincoln welch. >> our life was pretty simple. but comfortable. we were able to do the vacations. we were able to go visit family. couldn't go out and buy a new mercedes, but we had a comfortable, middle-class life. >> the welchs and three children live in superior, colorado. a town "money" magazine named one of the top 20 best places to live in america, just last year.
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>> it is the most amazing place in the country to live. we have a real sense of community within our town. i feel safe here. >> joyce's husband lincoln is a mechanical engineer who for the last seven years earned close to six figures, designing printers at a tech company. joyce had quit working years earlier to care full-time for her youngest son michael who was born with a rare chromosomal disorder. >> he's had 17 surgeries and various procedures. and we're looking at at least two more. >> that's you. >> hi, buddy. >> michael's medical bills with out of pocket costs up to $30,000 a year didn't leave much in the family savings account. but as long as lincoln had his job, the famy was financially safe. >> we weren't struggling. there was never a concern about how are we going to pay this bill? it was just okay, here's a bill, pay it.
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>> then in november 2011, joyce's safe and sensible life came crashing down. >> i got a phone call from lincoln saying i have some bad news. and he said that they did another round of layoffs and he was in this round. i mean, you've got three kids to take care of, you've got a house, you have a dog, two fish. you go into survival mode. what do i have to do to survive? >> diane and john's own survival began in april of 2011. when diane says she lost her executive job because of a workplace dispute. but she wasn't worried at first. >> i interviewed over a period of five weeks for one position, but then i came down -- it came down to me and one other person and i was not the one. >> you can rationalize -- >> yeah, another job coming along. >> or the next one. >> yeah. >> then that didn't happen. >> exactly. >> john's business consulting job had been eliminated four
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months earlier. he had been able to find a sales job at an athletic store with benefits, but at a much lower salary. >> did you get it? you want me to help you? >> then, in june 2011, their youngest daughter was hospitalized with a rare liver disease. she recovered but the family suddenly owed several thousand dollars in medical bills. so much for their savings. >> our ability to live where we live, keep our vehicles, to pay the rent, all those things are at stake right now. [ laughter ] [ girl ] wow, you guys have it easy.
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it's been two weeks since joyce welch's husband lincoln lost his engineering job. now with no savings and her son's unpaid medical bills piling up, she is forced to do something she never thought she would have to -- ask for help. >> so what ideally would be enough to make you breathe the most easily? >> if we had enough to pay half of the rent. i just -- we're sitting there going, i cannot believe i'm
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having to do this. this sucks. we can try to find a new word for it, but at the end of the day it just sucks. >> you're going to be okay. it's hard time right now. >> joyce is speaking to sarah nelson, the program director at the sister carmen community center. a nonprofit organization that has traditionally helped low-income families in east boulder county. in 2010, only 4% of sister carmen's clients were from well-to-do boulder suburbs like superior. but by the end of 2011, that share had exploded to a whopping 22%. so your demand went up from 2010 to 2011. a financial crisis started in 2008. why now? why are we seeing it now? >> especially when it comes to the middle class families their resources are drained. they have utilized all of their savings, all of their retirement
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funds, got as much help from family and friends as they can and we're their last resort. >> for the first time in u.s. history, there are more poor people living in the suburbs than in cities. among them, millions of formerly middle class families who are relying on safety net services for the very first time. >> whenever families access that financial assistance from us, they meet with the support services coordinator. that kind of helps explore how we can support them so they can reach self-sufficiency and no longer will need our services. >> it is all about riding a road map to self-sufficiency. >> yes. >> sister carmen is able to help joyce with next month's month and they give her gift cards for gas and groceries with the holidays around the corner some christmas gifts for the kids. >> i'm grateful for it. i really am. but there's also an unbelievable sadness because i have to ask for help. i want to be able to do it on my own.
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>> i want to be the one who's able to help somebody else, not the one who needs to ask for help. >> joyce's emotional descent into poverty is just beginning and there will be many more moments of sadness and humiliation to come. >> well, i was laid off two weeks ago. my insurance ran out at the end of the month. >> this is ann huggins. we met her that very same day just two offices down the hall from joyce. ann was making her first visit to sister carmen counselor. >> based on what my income was, it will only be $200 a week. >> since she lost her job at a nonprofit solar power company, ann has been in a panic about how to afford her teenage daughter's diabetes medication. >> i need to get a job as quick as possible, with benefits. >> ann knows how tough it will be to find that job.
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her husband, an aircraft mechanic lost his in 2008, and has worked only sporadically since. the couple blew through their savings and 401(k)s and are now separated. how much of a financial stress a part of tearing you two apart? >> it became a huge problem in the marriage. i mean, it kind of overshadowed everything else. >> as a single mom, ann knows she is now five times more likely to end up below the poverty line than if she were married. her in laws are helping to pay the mortgage but otherwise ann needs all the help she can get. and she doesn't hesitate to ask. but that doesn't make it any easier. >> i'm sure this feels like it's stepping back, but keep the focus on moving forward, right? >> yes. it's okay to receive. sometimes we need it, you know, you have to do it and you have to put your self-esteem and emotions on hold and do what you no ed to do.
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>> ann's counselor helps her apply for a low cost health program for her daughter and arranges to help pay january's electricity, water and medical bills. >> you know this is temporary. >> good, thank you. >> you'll be able to get back on your feet. >> diane and john also hope their situation will be short lived. as the sole provider, john is feeling the pressure. he loves his job at the athletic store, but his salary is not nearly enough to pay all the bills. >> from a traditional nine set, us guys were supposed to go out there, drag it, bring it back in, so as a man i feel like i'm not taking care of the family. >> in july 2011, after three months out of work and with their savings exhausted, diane reluctantly turns to hhs. boulder county's department of housing and human services. >> they said, are you needing
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some rent assistance, how you doing with your housing needs? so i told them things are really tight. >> is it an out of body experience having discussions with strangers about your finances. we are talking public assistance. >> yeah. we needed that kind of help and, you know, you get to a point where you're willing to become vulnerable in that way. >> but diane is shocked by what hhs suggests next. >> said, by the way, here's a list of the food pantries in town and you can access those. i was like, no, i don't want to do that. there's a stigma about that. >> diane will soon realize she has no choice. coming up -- a secret visit to a food pantry. >> put my hair in a ponytail and i wore sunglasses. i tried to park as far away as possible. then i walked around the building to see if t
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just a few weeks before christmas, 2011, reality is staring single mom ann huggins squarely in the face. no job, little savings. and most worrisome of all, no health insurance for a daughter with diabetes. so ann has begun borrowing money from family to stockpile medication. >> this is more than a month's worth. i have some other medications. >> ann is anxiously awaiting to hear whether her daughter will qualify for low-cost insurance. [ phone rings ] >> hello? this is she. thank you so much. wow. okay. all right. bye. that's fantastic. yeah, so my daughter has temporary insurance coverage.
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whoo! god, that's a huge load off. i have relied on my family to cover medical expenses and -- now i don't have to. >> ann is about to turn 50. this is not where she imagined she would be. but at least her daughter is safe for now. >> in the last four years we have had 100,000 applications for assistance in boulder county alone. too many numbers not to have a mass intervention. >> frank alexander is the director of the boulder county department of housing and urban services. we foresaw the deluge of struggling middle class families who would turn to his department for help. >> safety nets are built to try
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to catch people right before they hit the pavement. if we can get people before they fall, we can actually throw a lot more people in a lot better way and we don't have to clean up the mess on the street. >> but just as hhs began to create new programs to help unemployed families get back on their feet, the state and federal government actually cut hhs's funding by $6 million. more than 20% of the agency's annual budget. so hhs turned to the citizens of boulder county, with a controversial proposal. a property tax hike. >> we asked the community for five years of support. so it's a five-year tax. it equals about $21 per year on a $300,000 home. >> ballot initiative 1-a came to a vote in november 2010. surprisingly, it passed. in its first year, 1-a raised $5 million. one of the beneficiaries, the
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windowmueller family. with diane still unemployed their rental assistance is extended until march 2012. but in return, hhs demands proof that the family is now living on a strict budget. >> they want an accountability for sure. and they asked us to cut back and cut back and cut as much as possible. >> lord, we thank you for this day. amen. >> so the family eliminates vacations. dinners out and afternoon-school activities for the kids. they cancelled their cable. downgrade their internet service. stopped using credit cards and start shopping for clothes in thrift stores. but they decide to keep the big suv. was the suv a symbol of better days? >> yes. yes. definitely. a symbol of security and success and solidly middle class people. >> that solid, middle class life seems like a distant memory now.
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paying basic bills has become a struggle. even the grocery bill. so to save money, diane musters up the nerve to do what a few months ago was unthinkable. she goes to her local food pantry. >> i tried to park as far away as possible. and then i walked around the building to see if there was a back way in and a back way out. i put my hair in a ponytail and i wore sunglasses. >> like you were doing something elicit. >> right. it felt that uncomfortable. >> diane makes it through that first visit. but she is mortified the day she can't afford a baby sitter. and has to bring her kids. >> i don't want them to remember this time. >> diane? >> hi, how are you? >> i don't want them to remember a food pantry in their life. how are they going to process that?
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what's going on and when is our life going to feel normal again? and mom and dad haven't really pulled it together yet. >> in fact, they haven't. and now it's getting serious. diane and john are fighting more and more. their arguments get so bad, they decide to go to a marriage therapist. >> this crisis has really taken a toll on your relationship. >> yes. >> it's a glimpse into a place rarely visited by tv news cameras. where fears, anxieties and resentments all come tumbling out. >> a couple of nights ago we were at each other's throats and i said, there's the door. this mess did not happen overnight and it's not going to go get cured overnight. when you have the stress and the worry and the fear, how are you going to pay the bills? how are you going to keep the lights on?
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how are you going to get food? are you still getting -- >> get the kids to college. >> yeah. >> retirement, college, all those things are totally on hold right now. and that's got to be very disillusioning. >> for diane and john, the upcoming year is shaping up to be an uphill battle. for joyce too, she has just received lincoln's first unemployment check. the family's only source of income now. >> looking at the unemployment check here and you're looking at the bills here. and this check doesn't add up to these bills. he's got to find a job. >> needing every penny for rent, joyce puts on a brave face. and heads to the sister carmen food pantry. >> i can make banana bread. my kids love banana bread. that's not too bad for them. >> to make the food pantry experience more dignified for the clients, sister carmen
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designed the space to mimic a supermarket. but there's only so much the center can do. >> there's no mistaking this for a food bank. >> exactly. i'm thrilled and blessed to have sister carmen. >> but you don't like coming back here? >> i hate coming back here. i hate it. i want to be able to do -- i want to pick what i want to eat. i want to feed my kids what my kids will eat. and not have to worry about, okay, but this is all we've got. >> so each time you come here you're praying it's the last? >> yes. i don't want to have to come back and yet i know in two weeks i'll be here again. >> christmas is only days away. as joyce wraps the presents that sister carmen donated to her kids, she struggles to keep up the facade that everything is okay. >> i'm trying to stay above water. i'm trying not to drown and not to think. >> joyce doesn't realize it yet, but a storm is coming. coming up -- is the welch family
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about to be homeless? >> there's a moment where i went, my joy is gone. my love for life is gone. >> when "america now, lost in suburbia continues." [ boy 1 ] hey! that's the last crescent.
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hello? >> hey, joyce, it's sarah at sister carmen. i have some very good news. >> 2012 starts out well for joyce. >> i just talked to the housing stabilization program. >> yes. >> and she said that you would be eligible. >> ye! >> through ballot initiative 1-a the welch family has just qualified for a program that will pay their full rent for three months. long enough joyce hopes for her husband, lincoln, to find work. but a month later in february, lincoln still hasn't made any progress. >> i was expecting a very, very quick transition from one job to another. i was thinking this is gonna be a week, two weeks. maybe three weeks. not even close. >> lincoln's unemployment check is $2,000 a month, less than a third of what the family used to make. it's official now. the welch family has fallen below the u.s. poverty line.
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one of at least 3 1/2 million suburbanites who have crossed that line since 2007. >> there's faces behind those numbers. it's kids who are affected, it's you know, a family that's impacted. it will be easy, baby. >> over the years, joyce has learned to be strong for her son michael who suffers from a debilitating chromosomal disorder. but today the toughest part comes when the doctor visit ends when she has to show the family's new medicaid card. >> just the medicaid? >> yes. >> we're all set. >> when they said medicaid it feels like the loudest voice in the entire room and the entire world knows you're on medicaid. i'm grateful for it, but it's still so humbling. >> but that's not the only help the family needs. they're also now on food stamps. here, joyce takes her first trip
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to a costco with her food stamps debit card. >> i never thought i would be applying for food stamps. i never thought i wouldn't be able to feed my kids on my own. >> in 2008, fewer than 7,000 people received food assistance in boulder county. today, that number has exploded to almost 17,000, a 150% increase. joyce knows she's not alone. but she feels like it. >> we live in superior, colorado. you feel like you're the only person in this amazing place to live that's walking around with a cart for food stamps. >> i have my abc card. >> i have this card and i know it's supposed to look like a debit card and nobody understands what this is, but everybody knows. it's a card and it's food stamps. >> thank you. >> have a wonderful day. >> you too. >> joyce has intentionally chosen a costco a bit further
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from home. less chance of bumping into someone she knows. >> i don't need anybody else judging me about it. >> how well have you hidden your personal crisis? >> up until this airs really well. i don't play keeping up with the joneses but we don't have hang out with friends as much. we don't have people over as much. it's not hiding necessarily what's going on with us, but it's withdrawing so that people don't know. it's this dirty little secret because everybody in superior is supposed to be able to go buy a new car, supposed to buy the bigger house. what we don't talk about is people who struggle. it's taken a toll. taken a real toll. >> an emotional toll? >> it takes an emotional toll. takes a mental toll, it takes a physical toll. there is a moment where i went, my joy is gone. my love for life, my ability to continue moving forward is gone. >> and then, things get worse.
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on february 14th, valentine's day, joyce's landlord says he's decided to sell the house they have lived in for the last few years. now lincoln is really feeling the heat. >> we have to find another place. most people don't like to rent to people who aren't employed. i can't blame them for that. so there's an additional pressure. >> like come on. can we just have a break? can i just have six months of nothing chaotic or negative or no more shoes dropping? no mountains to climb. just easy. >> my name is diane, i left a message for you several days ago, regarding the vice president of human resources opening you have. >> after nine fruitless months of searching for work, diane is barely hanging on. >> it's really difficult. it's tough. i mean, i have been on the other side where i have had to tell people no. and yeah, now i get to experience it too.
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>> so far, diane has not seriously considered anything less than a full-time executive position. >> it's a difficult situation for me to talk about part-time work. you know, people make judgments about that and maybe won't see me as the professional executive that i'd like to be seen as. >> diane wants to be patient, knowing that a job like the one she had will get the family out of trouble immediately. at the same time, she has lost patience with her husband john. she thinks he should be more ambitious and find something better than his current job. >> i always feel like you're selling yourself so short. you're like, oh, i can only do this. you know? just feels like that. >> all right. >> it bugs me. >> it seems like he's unable to move forward. and the lack of being able to move forward equals to me lack of caring. you know, lack of love. >> you know, maybe i'm not the person that you -- that you want me to be, but i'm trying. >> i appreciate that. >> so, you know, i think in the
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end you need to determine if that's going to be good enough. so -- >> is that an ultimatum? >> no. i'm just -- i'm just making a statement that i'm trying and i feel like i'm upholding my end of the bargain. i'm employed, i have benefits. i'm bringing in a paycheck, but, you know, it takes two to tango. so -- we've got to work as a team. >> i have submitted my resume for some other things. >> but as diane meets with her hhs counselor, she knows the pressure is on her as well. if she can't find a job, the family is just two months away from potential disaster. >> my unemployment benefits may be running out shortly. that may be the end of march. >> and that march deadline seems to be kind of a big one, because that's when your deadline is for this program as well. >> yes. yes. the rental assistance. >> yes. >> so it's all coming to a head.
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>> we have to prepare for the worst. and hope for the best. [ phone rings ] >> the worst will come earlier than expected. >> the balance remaining on your claim is $0. >> coming up -- big changes ahead for diane. >> i have to make some hard choices. >> and she does. >> i think that i'll be working from 7:00 till 2:00 in okay, here's the plan. you have a plan?
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with special perks on united. house to reflect the sun's rays back into space to try to reduce climate change. but there are easier ways to go green. like turning off the lights when you leave a room. you could save the tin foil for leftovers the more you know. i just -- i'm just trying not to dwell on things that are so painful and difficult right now. >> well, i don't think anybody even can understand unless you have been through it. >> in a sister carmen conference room, ann hug gins meets two
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others like her. >> i hate to cook. so i have made more homemade meals in the last two months in all the years combined before then. >> congratulations. you're learning to cook. >> it was like looking in a mirror. we were instant friends. i definitely was seeing that, you know, they're struggling and they're making it. i can struggle and i can make it. >> ann has been networking and developing leads since the day she lost her job. >> they want to do some self-exploration -- >> sister carmen provided a resume coach free of charge to prepare her for job interviews. she has gone to several job fairs and in january interviewed for an administrative assistant position in denver. [ phone rings ] >> hello? >> the office supervisor calls her back. with a job. it's a temporary three-month assignment with no benefits and a two-hour daily commute. but it could lead to a full-time
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position. >> seems like you're looking forward to retaining somebody permanently and in that position and the company needs somebody in that position. great. i did feel i had to take that job because that job is available now. i don't have the luxury of looking around any longer. i don't have the luxury of saying no. thank you for that opportunity. >> for ann, compromise is a word. ten months into her own job search, diane isn't ready to compromise yet. she still wants that executive title and the security it will bring. these days, her mental break from the pressure is her monthly volunteer session at her church's soup kitchen. >> even in my difficult circumstance, i still have the ability to help other people, so i should do that. and i can. it gives me energy. it gives me hope. and i need lots of hope right
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now. >> press two. >> but suddenly, a new crisis is brewing. >> the balance remaining on your claim is $0. thank you for calling the unemployment insurance offices. good-bye. >> diane's unemployment benefits seemed to have run out a month earlier than expected. she calls a case manager to find out what's going on. >> she said, well, you're out of benefits. you have run out, hon. she called me sweetie. she was chomping on gum. and she said, you should have paid better attention to things. >> there's just one month left on the family's rental assistance. >> are you guys willing to consider an additional month? >> you know, i can't promise either way. more things will have to be either cut back or find other ways to supplement your income with the unemployment running out. eight months of assistance has been i think a lot.
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and i haven't really seen as many changes or moving forward as i guess i expected. >> right. okay. >> our case worker kind of confronted me, you know, you have to look at your budget more closely, you have make cuts, you have to make more sacrifices. we have given you all of this assistance and what has it gained you? >> i feel like at this point might be living outside of your means a little bit. >> but i'm one job away from normal i said. and she said, but that job hasn't come yet. >> no unemployment benefits. no rental assistance. at home, john runs the numbers. >> we would be in a deficit situation by -- yeah. probably $1,500 to $1,800. in the short term we need to create income. >> john thinks it is diane who has to step up and find a job. any job. their marriage therapist agrees.
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>> i think the underlying issue for you, diane, i think there's a reluctance on your part to do something that is beneath you. you know, you're highly educated. you have a lot of experience. and i think there's this bit of inner snob in you. >> i mean, if you were to get a full-time job tomorrow that only paid what i'm earning at the running company, you know what? we would pay our bills. >> we would? >> we would pay our bills. >> for diane, john's sudden assertiveness appears to be a wake-up call. >> i was hoping that things would come together sooner, but they haven't. so here we sit and, you know, i have to grow up. i have to face some very hard facts and make some hard choices. >> see how it goes. >> yeah. >> hopefully it's very temporary. >> john has taken on an additional part-time job with an office cleaning company. diane agrees to share the work load.
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>> at what time? >> first shift is scheduled for the same evening as one of her professional networking meetings. it's not something diane ever imagined would happen. but come 6:00 p.m., the former executive turns into a cleaning lady. >> so i think i'll be working from 7:00 until 2:00 in the morning. >> it's 4:00 a.m. when diane returns to her car. >> i know, it's kind of surreal. it just didn't feel like me and it didn't feel like my life. i kept thinking, there are people that are actually working jobs during the days. i'm seeing their offices empty at night and that's kind of odd. i would like to be on the other side. i'd like to have the day job. it's disappointing for sure. for myself and i'm sure, you know, my parents, john's parents
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and everyone. i feel like i'm letting a lot of people down. >> diane has hit rock bottom. she's angry at herself. and angry that she and john have let it come this far. >> working in these kind of positions we can't sustain our life. it feels like a black hole that we're going into and something we can't climb out of again. >> in her anxiety, diane lashes out at john. who desperately calls their marriage therapist for advice. the therapist suggests a trial separation. and when diane shows up for an individual session a couple days later, the therapist has the papers ready. >> i was just in complete shock that it had come to that and that she had to offer that to me as a solution. and that things had really gotten that bad and it just hit me hard in the face. >> the papers sit on the night stand.
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>> right, they sit on the night stand. i don't look at them. >> you know they're sitting there. >> yes. >> constant reminder of where you are and where things could be? >> mm-hmm. yeah. and what am i going to choose now? >> coming up -- finally, some good news. >> it gives me new encouragement, more energy. it gives me the drive that i need to continue on. >> when "america now, lost in su
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three months at her denver job it's almost up and so far she has not received a full-time offer. >> hi, very nice to meet you. >> so she continues to interview. >> how do you manage your time? >> including at the sister carmen community center. which has an opening for someone
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to manage its hundreds of volunteers. >> we'll be in touch at the end of this week or early next. [ phone rings ] >> hello? >> hi, ann, it's suzanne crawford. how you? >> hi, i'm fine. >> so i'm calling with a bit of good news. we would love to offer you the volunteer manager position. >> well, thank you very much. that's fantastic. do you want to get the two of you guys together? >> sure. >> the job is part-time. and the salary is not quite enough to overcome her financial troubles. but in ann's new normal, it's a positive step. >> i'm not out of the woods yet, but things do change, i'm planting seeds. >> more importantly, ann says, the job will give her a chance to give back to a place that has been her life line these past few months. it's a bittersweet 50th birthday for ann. but it comes with a gift that cannot be measured by money.
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a new perspective on the importance of family, friendship, and the willingness to ask for help. >> i think that our humanity is what we show to each other and that's really how we connect. it's not necessarily hey, i've got this car, you have that car, isn't that great? it's more about are your kids set, are they sleeping at night, how are you doing? if you need some help i'm here for you. >> that's the same motto that drives the staff at sister carmen and government officials like hhs' frank alexander as they struggle to salvage a vanishing american dream. >> i think when we look at national data, we clearly have seen an erosion of the middle class. and our hope is for many families that they actually do transition back to some form of self-sufficiency and stability for themselves. >> but how much can we afford? can we as a society continue to spend this kind of money to
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catch people when they're falling everywhere we look? >> i don't think we can afford not to invest more in our communities, because if we don't, we're going to have a generation that is stuck in poverty. >> you're an excellent packer. check you out. >> with just a month left before they have to move out of their home, the welch family still has not found another place to live. joyce has stopped hiding her family's poverty, and begrudgingly accepted she's just another victim in an economic crisis beyond her control. and that she says is nothing to be ashamed of. even if you live in superior, colorado. >> people like me are on food stamps. it's people who want to go to work and can't find work and don't have an alternative. this is the reality for more and more people in america. this is the face of food stamps. my children are the face of medicaid. this is the reality. >> the family can survive on
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rental assistance and unemployment for a few more months. lincoln is still optimistic he can find a job and get his family back on their feet. do you ever fear in quiet moments that this is life, this is life as -- you know, you're going to know it? >> i do fear that. i think that strengthens my resolve. i will fight whatever i have to fight and i will not stay here. >> reality for john and diane could be a life without one another. their therapist has suggested a trial separation. but they decide they are not ready to call it quits. >> i think it kind of brought us together a little bit, ironically. we started to use the term we more. we can do this. there's too much at stake. we are stronger than that. we don't have to run away from it. so we're staying with each other. i think that that speaks volumes
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to your relationship and that you still -- you aren't done. you are pulling together. >> thanks. >> yeah, thank you. >> it was a wake-up call. >> for sure. >> and there is one more thing. >> and very, very proud of you, diane, for getting out of your comfort zone, you know? jumping in and going back to work. >> yes, diane has found a job. not as a cleaning lady, but in a temporary administrative position at an international shoe retailer, croc's. it's not an executive job, but it's a start. >> the fact that i'm actually out there working again, that is very symbolic. it gives me new encouragement, more energy. it gives me the drive that i need to continue on in my job search. >> diane and john like joyce and lincoln, like ann are determined to become self-sufficient once more. one step at a time. they owe it to themselves they say, but most of all, they owe
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it to their children. >> if this ends the way we hope it all does, a pretty good lesson in this for them. >> yes. if they have adversity in their life, they can say mom and dad stayed together, they pulled through. they persevered. >> as we mentioned earlier, there are signs the economy is improving and life is definitely a little better for at least two of the families we have been following. diane is on her way up once again. she's now managing the day to day operations of a human resources office and her husband john is still working at the running store, but he's studying to become a physician's assistant. the family no longer receives any public assistance. and ann huggins has gotten a full-time job at sister carmen with full benefits. but things sadly have not improved for joyce and lincoln welch. they had to move out of superior
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to find housing they could afford and lincoln is still unemployed. we hope life gets better soon. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. breaking news from the nbc newsroom. we understand two people including a fire captain have the news starts in 30 seconds.


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